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SPURS HEAD COACH GREGG POPOVICH

June 8, 2013
INDIANA SPORTS PAGE



Gregg Popovich

MIAMI, FLORIDA: Practice Day

Q.  Hi, Pop.  Game 1 tied for the fewest fouls called in a Finals game, 24 fouls, 12 per team.  I don't know whether that meant the teams were playing particularly finesse basketball or the referees were letting things go.  I'm wondering what does it mean to have a low?whistle total in a game?  How much adjustment goes on to how things are called?  And is there a preference for you guys? COACH GREGG POPOVICH:  No, never entered my mind.  Never thought about how the game was being called.  Didn't know it was a record, or whatever you just said, tied a record.  Doesn't really mean much to me.

Q.  You don't have a preference, a lot of free throws versus?? COACH GREGG POPOVICH:  No.  Just play the game.

Q.  Coach, you kind of talked about it a little bit before.  Just seeing the evolution of Danny Green since he came back here, how much do you think he benefited from last year's playoff experience?  And is that serving him well this year? COACH GREGG POPOVICH:  One would hope that experience helps everybody.

Q.  How has Manu Ginobili had to adjust his game based on athleticism, and injury, age over the years?  How, I guess, does your offense make sure you get the most out of him with what he has to give you? COACH GREGG POPOVICH:  We haven't changed anything.  Every player adjusts as they get a little bit older or if they have an injury.  But the system doesn't change.

Q.  Pop, this is obviously the last series for Bud (Budenholzer) before he goes to Atlanta.  I'm just wondering if you could share what he's meant to you over the years and what the challenges would be for him or any new coach going ?? and some of the things he will have to deal with that he doesn't have to deal with as an assistant. COACH GREGG POPOVICH:  Well, whatever he's going to have to deal with, those are his problems.  I'm not going to worry about those right now.  We have other problems right now.  So that's out of sight, out of mind. But for me he's been a confidante for a long time, a really trusted professional and friend all at the same time.  Highly gifted, highly intelligent young man, who is going to do a great job, I believe. It's been a long time that we've been together, and it already feels a little bit weird.  When I see him sitting there and I know he's not going to be there next season, and I know I'll miss that. Started a long time ago with Golden State when I brought him in as an unpaid helper in the film room.  Told him if he wanted to do something, go back in the film room and put those pick?and?rolls together for me and don't talk to me, don't ask for tickets, don't speak to anybody.  Just do the film and go home.  And no money, by the way.  That's what he did for a year. That's what he's built like.

Q.  What do you expect from this current Manu Ginobili?  And how did his role on the team change along these 11 years? COACH GREGG POPOVICH:  His role hasn't changed at all.  He's Manu Ginobili.  He's a great competitor, great player, and he just plays his game.  His role hasn't changed a bit.  He's always been very important in us winning basketball games.

Q.  Just to pick up on something you said the other day, Pop, about LeBron.  I just asked him when people say, "you need to be more aggressive," and he just cut me off and he goes, "I don't really care what people say about me needing to be more aggressive."  You've kind of picked up on the fact that he's really kind of somehow changed his approach in terms of the noise. COACH GREGG POPOVICH:  Yeah, I said it a lot.  During the season people asked me, before the playoffs ? he's grown.  He's a grown man.  He doesn't need any of you to tell him anything.  He knows more than all of you put together.  He understands the game.  If he makes a pass and you all think he should have shot it, or he shoots it and you think he should have made a pass, your opinions mean nothing to him, as they should not mean anything to him. He's a great player, and his decisions are what they are to gain.  All decisions don't always work out.  They didn't always work out for Michael or Tim Duncan or Shaq or Kobe Bryant or whoever.  You make a decision and that's what you go with. All the chirp, chirp, chirping about what he should have done, I thought it was hilarious from the beginning.  Frankly, I was very happy for him as the year progressed when it became obvious he was comfortable in his own skin and didn't need to listen to any of you all.

Q.  It took a few replays at the end of Game 1 on Tony's shot, but ultimately it went your team's way.  How do you feel about the replay rule and how that has impacted the game?  And is there anything you would like to see either added or taken away? COACH GREGG POPOVICH:  I think it's been great.  One would always want the right call to be made, and this is a ridiculously difficult sport to get right every single time.  It's impossible.  Can't do it.  So the replay I think has helped a lot of games, both regular season and playoffs, to be called correctly down the stretch. There are probably some other tweaks that can be made.  But to be honest with you, I don't have the mental capacity right now to deal with that.  I have no clue what those would be.  I would have to be in a different situation, like a month from now or something.

Q.  Gary Neal played the other night more than he has played since the first series of the playoffs.  Is this a matchup thing?  Do you like what he gives knew terms of shooting in this series? COACH GREGG POPOVICH:  It's just a feel in the game.  We didn't plan ahead of time how many minutes he was going to play or not play.  I just thought the game called for his presence for a variety of reasons, and we went that way.

Q.  Similar question:  When you are resting Parker and Duncan and you are trying to manage the game, what are you looking for to let you know, okay, now is enough time, I have to send those back in?  What's the criteria to determine when it's time to get them back in? COACH GREGG POPOVICH:  You know, I know about how many minutes I want them to play.  You want your best players on the floor as many minutes as possible.  By this time I kind of know how much time they need before they are ready again.  I've been with them long enough. And also it's the game situation.  Did the other team just make an eight?point run?  Or do we have the game under control to some degree and they need more time?  And luckily we're up six and they can get more time and we're down six, I don't have time, get back in there now.  It's all those sorts of things put together.  It's just a feel.

Q.  Could you comment on Tiago Splitter's performance so far in the playoffs and the expectations for the next couple of games? COACH GREGG POPOVICH:  Tiago has played well throughout the playoffs.  It's his first year where he's been both healthy and gotten steady minutes.  So he's been starting for the entire season, basically.  And he's familiar with the system now for the first time.  And he gives us all those blue?collar qualities that one can't describe?? solid defense, solid boards. He's not an iso player or anything like that.  But he competes every down.  And somebody that the group feels very comfortable with in what he's going to give us night after night.

Q.  I think you changed the switch of offense and defense on the road this season.  You have defense in front of your bench in the first half and offense in front of the bench in the second half.  Why after 16 years did you switch that? COACH GREGG POPOVICH:  I was bored.  I was bored.

Q.  That's the only reason?  Is that the only reason? COACH GREGG POPOVICH:  No.

Q.  What's the other? COACH GREGG POPOVICH:  That's one reason.  Any others? THE MODERATOR:  Thanks, Coach.


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